Emmy nominee profile: Sam Richardson (‘Ted Lasso’) looks to triumph on first notice

This year, “Ted Lasso” made history by tying the record set by “30 Rock” in 2009 for the most non-sketch comedy acting Emmy nominations at 10. Four female and six male performers have been recognized across five categories for the Apple TV+ show’s second batch of episodes. Though half of these men are first-time contenders, Best Comedy Guest Actor nominee Sam Richardson is the only one who joined the cast during the sophomore season.

Richardson appeared in the final two episodes of the latest “Ted Lasso” season as African billionaire Edwin Akufo. He is nominated for the penultimate installment, “Midnight Train to Royston,” in which Akufo arrives in London to persuade Nigerian-born AFC Richmond player Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh) to join him in a business venture. His plan to buy a Moroccan football club and eventually secure Africa’s first FIFA World Cup victory intrigues Obisanya, who is then faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to leave his friends and teammates behind.

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Richardson made his TV acting debut on the 2012 comedy series “Harder Than It Looks.” Over the past decade, he has played guest or recurring roles on such shows as “The Office,” “Arrested Development,” “Portlandia” and “New Girl.” He is also known for having been a regular cast member on “Veep,” “Detroiters” and “The Afterparty.”

At 38, Richardson would be the fifth youngest man to win an Emmy for comedic guest acting after Justin Timberlake (28 and 30, “Saturday Night Live,” 2009 and 2011), Bobby Cannavale (35, “Will & Grace,” 2005), Neil Patrick Harris (37, “Glee,” 2010) and Jimmy Fallon (38, “Saturday Night Live,” 2012). He would also be this category’s sixth overall and third consecutive Black victor, after Roscoe Lee Browne (“The Cosby Show,” 1986), Cleavon Little (“Dear John,” 1989), Dave Chappelle (“Saturday Night Live,” 2017 and 2021), Katt Williams (“Atlanta,” 2018) and Eddie Murphy (“Saturday Night Live,” 2020).

Richardson’s challengers include his “Ted Lasso” castmate James Lance, other first-timers Jerrod Carmichael (“Saturday Night Live”) and Christopher McDonald (“Hacks”), and past contenders Bill Hader (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) and Nathan Lane (“Only Murders in the Building”). Lane is now the only recipient of six bids in this category, with his first five having come for “Frasier” (1995), “Mad About You” (1998) and “Modern Family” (2011, 2013, and 2014). Hader has vied for this award twice as a “Saturday Night Live” host (2015 and 2018) and is simultaneously seeking his third acting and first directing and writing wins for “Barry.”

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “Emmy nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2022 acting contenders.

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